First Viking Longship Excavation in 100 Years Underway

by Hunter Miller

A historic dig to uncover Viking longships is underway in Norway. This is the first longship excavation in 100 years.

The team responsible for the excavation is the Museum of Cultural History at the University of Oslo, according to a statement by the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU). Using ground-penetrating radar, the NIKU and Østfold County Council discovered the “Gjellestad Ship” in 2018.

NIKU department head and Viking ship expert Knut Paasche shared a statement about the forthcoming dig. “This will be exciting for all of us, regardless of whether you are an archaeologist or just have a medium interest in our past,” Paasche said.

The Viking longship, a 66-foot vessel, is located in a burial mound. It reportedly lies only 1.6 feet beneath the topsoil. According to Paasche, the ship is not in good condition. The team discovered during a trial excavation in 2019 that only part of the timbers have stood the test of time.

While many Viking longships once ruled the seas, only a handful remain in suitable condition for studying. “Of the hundreds of ships that once sailed on our coasts, we have only three well-preserved ship finds from this oldest period,” Paasche said.

The Goals of Excavating the Viking Longship

The team, led by archaeologist Christian Løchsen Rødsrud, set aside 5 months for the excavation. Despite the ship’s poor condition, experts believe there is a high chance of documenting the longship.

A major goal of the excavation is to gain a deeper understanding of the Viking period. “With so few ship discovered, a new Viking ship will have a great impact on understanding the ships themselves, but also provide valuable information to understand the historical era as a whole,” Paasche said.

The team hopes to excavate more than just the longship. They aim to discover the remains of objects “in the form of everything from jewelry and weapons to household goods.”

[H/T Fox News]